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•  Age 35+
•  Luteal Phase Defect
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•  After IVF/IUI
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    FFAC for ART

My major role and intention is to help women get pregnant naturally. However, if you decided to use Western medical techniques (ART) such as IVF, I can definitely help you with your decision.

Applying TCM principles can help you prepare your body for an ART, support you physically and mentally during and after the procedure, and mitigate some of the difficult side effects caused by some of the medications. 

Overall success rates for IVF procedures:
- 28% in women under thirty
- 8% in women age thirty-nine
- 3% for women age forty-four 

About 10-20% of ART cycles have to be canceled either because a woman has not produced enough eggs or because her ovaries have become over-stimulated. On average, women go through seven cycles of ART before they either conceive or quit. The minimum cost of a single IVF is about $10,000. Therefore, anything you can do to increase your chances of success will definitely be worthwhile.   

Before  IVF  

You need to do everything possible to ensure you are hormonally healthy before you begin pursuing pregnancy through ART. The hormonal medications given during ART are designed to increase your production of eggs but are not going to help those eggs be healthy. Remember, giving birth is the goal not pregnancy. Miscarriage rates are significantly higher for pregnancies in which hormonal stimulation has been used. The hormonal health prior to ART applies to men as well. The risk of birth defects doubles when IVF procedures include ICSI (IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection). 

I recommend my patients that they start their TCM treatment at least three months before their ART cycle. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help improve dramatically the outcome of ART in 4 ways: 

- alleviate side effects of medical treatments and improve response to hormonal stimulation.
- improve the blood flow to the uterus and ovaries.
- alleviate some of the tension inherent in these extremely stressful procedures.
- calm the uterus to prepare it for implantation. 

During IVF 

Since some infertility physicians do not allow use of herbs during the ART cycle, it is solely patients¡¯ decision and responsibility if they want to keep utilizing acupuncture, herbs, or both during their ART cycle. 

If you had a successful TCM pre-IVF treatments and I decided your body is ready for the ART, you may be fine without any TCM treatments during your ART. However, if you did not have enough time (minimum of three months) to address the underlying problems, or if I decided your body is not ready, then it becomes your decision. Remember I said minimum of three month. That means many patients need more time than just three months to make their body ready for pregnancy. 

There are different TCM treatment protocols used for each stage of the ART cycle. Different acupuncture points and herbal formulas are utilized in each stage. Also, there is a ¡°pre-transfer of embryo¡± protocol using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, or both methods used only for two days (once the day before the transfer and second in the morning of transfer) to calm the patient and relax the uterus. Therefore, when the transfer is being performed, the patient is less likely to experience cramping and uterine contractions, thus helping the embryo implantation. 

When Lupron fails to down-regulate patients undergoing ART cycles, the estrogen level may remain elevated. They typically are not allowed to proceed with their ART cycle. In this case, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may be able to help by stimulating points on the Liver channel and supplementing Liver meridian herbs. 

After IVF 

There are typically two kinds of reaction after an ART procedure: despair with failure or fear of miscarriage.


 •   Despair with Failure

You have just been through a lot of physical, mental, and emotional stress. Whether you choose to start another ART cycle or take a break, or even stop trying altogether, it¡¯s very important to do everything you can do to get your body as healthy as possible once more. If you have used ART for more than one cycle, you should understand the effects of hormonal manipulation on a woman¡¯s reproductive system. Drugs that compel the ovaries to produce more eggs have a long-term energetic effect of depleting the Kidney Essence. It is vital to give your body a break between hormonal cycles to recover the Kidney Essence. I recommend my patients to allow two months or more before they try another ART cycle. 

•    Fear of Miscarriage

Once the embryo has been fertilized and implanted into the uterus, it is extremely important to prevent miscarriage with IVF patients. Female patients around 40 years old experience a miscarriage rate of nearly 50% with IVF alone. 

However, with the help of Chinese medicine, the rate of miscarriage can significantly be reduced and the pregnancy can be supported to reach full term.  I usually focus on supplementing the Kidneys in all cases of threatened miscarriage. 

There is no way to determine the health of your egg and sperm unless you have had pre-implantation genetic studies performed on the developing embryo. If you are carrying a genetically abnormal embryo, no amount of bed rest, acupuncture, or herbs will curtail the inevitable. If ever you experience signs of cramping, bleeding, and low back pain during pregnancy, you should seek help immediately.

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